by Jack Long
Spoiler alert, Stranger Things is not a secret Christian allegory (really though, spoilers ahead). There is no Christ figure, and no stand in for the Father. Stranger Things lacks any hint of Christianity outside of the Christmas lights, a church funeral, and the ever-gnawing fear of the forces of darkness.
In the science-fiction world of Stranger Things, Earth coincides with the Upside-Down, a netherworld beneath Earth brimming with beings of pure evil. It is not a place within our Universe, but a separate dimension whose inhabitants are unable to interact with ours unless they enter through a vulnerable, traumatized soul who is summoning their dark power. From there, a being made of darkness known as the Mind Flayer can enter the world and possess whatever human it chooses. Anyone who enters through the gate of the Upside-Down should abandon all hope, because it is Hell in a lab coat.
Most descriptions of the Upside-Down in the show can be applied to Hell without adjustment. Characters who say that the Upside-Down “is right next to you and you don’t even see it” would speak more accurately if referring to the spiritual dimension the Devil inhabits, rather than the semi-physical world of the Demogorgon monster. This begs the question: why would writers so lacking in spiritual interest wander through the dark only to find one of the doctrines of Christianity? It does not make sense to say that the writers of Stranger Things would want a bloodthirsty monster like the Demogorgon to exist, but it seems they recognize that something horrific and powerful does exist.
In the real world, children are separated from their mothers, friends leave forever before we can reconcile with them, and death can come in the flash of a lightbulb. Everyone knows that the death of a child, even if it is from something as ordinary as illness, is wrong. Wrong in the way that a man without a face is wrong, it should not be that way. A rock cannot choose to do wrong, but a free man can turn it into a murder weapon. However, evil does not seem like something that humanity controls, it seems a lot more like evil controls us. We are at the whims of hurricanes, illnesses, and death. If we are not the ones at the reins of evil, then it seems there must be some being or beings beyond our knowledge that act as the princes of this cruel world. Through a thought process like this, the most secular people can intuit, consciously or unconsciously, the reality of demons in our world.
Should we be afraid? No, fear not. The demons of this world are destined to lose, in the exact same way the monsters from Stranger Things are meant to lose. There is no capability of the four school-children who star in Stranger Things that allows them to survive against the Demogorgon while dozens of scientists, soldiers, and high school graduates die in seconds. The only reason they live is, because they recognize that their reality is like those they know from Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars and act accordingly. What they realize is that they are living in a world with a writer, and they defeat evil on trust in literary convention rather than any merit. I should reiterate here that I don’t think Stranger Things was written as any sort of Christian parable, but I do think this connection is a fantastic way to get across that God is the Creator of both us and the demons and that He has already revealed to us that the good will win over evil. So, as we recognize that there are evils more powerful than us, we also should recognize that the Author has thoroughly spoiled this show’s very happy ending.